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Conversion therapy survivors condemn Pulse survivors’ ‘ex-gay’ group

Patrick Kelleher August 23, 2019
Conversion therapy survivors condemn Pulse survivors’ ‘ex-gay Freedom March'

Crowds mourning those lost in the Pulse Nightclub massacre (Drew Angerer/Getty)

A conversion therapy survivors’ group has condemned plans for an ‘ex-gay’ Freedom March organised by two survivors of the Pulse nightclub massacre.

Earlier this week, Angel Colon and Luis Javier Ruiz, who were both injured in the Pulse nightclub mass shooting in 2016, revealed that they no longer identify as gay and have set up an organisation for others like them.

Their ‘Freedom March’ is set to go ahead on September 14 and will take place close to Pulse.

The Conversion Therapy Dropout Network has expressly condemned the march as well as the organisation set up by Colon and Ruiz.

Conversion therapy survivor group said the ex-gay march is ‘harmful’.

In a statement to PinkNews, the group said they are “disturbed” by the move.

“These statements are harmful to the work we do and harmful to all those who have been permanently scarred by conversion therapy and specifically the thought that being queer can and should be changed,” they said.

We understand the fear they feel living as queer people, but to join the bigotry that oppresses us is not the answer.

“There is no doubt that Ruiz and Colon have experienced extreme trauma during the Pulse massacre. However, going to the opposite extreme and professing the same rhetoric that severely impacts their community is an insult to those lost in the massacre.

“We understand the fear they feel living as queer people, but to join the bigotry that oppresses us is not the answer. We need to be better than that and can be better than that.”

The group also expressed their sympathy for Ruiz and Colon and said they can’t imagine the terror they felt in the Pulse nightclub during the massacre.

They have asked them to reach out and speak with survivors of conversion therapy and to educate themselves on the issues it causes.

Luis Javier Ruiz said the Pulse massacre encouraged him to renounce his homosexuality.

Speaking to NBC News earlier this week, Colon said that the Pulse nightclub shooting had inspired him to renounce his homosexuality.

“My life was all over the place, and I never blamed it on being gay. I was a drug addict, an alcoholic,” he said.

“I missed worshipping God, so when Pulse happened, I took the situation as a big turning point in my life.”

The organisation he and Ruiz founded is called Fearless Identity Inc, and seeks to “bring hope” and “biblical understanding to those seeking to change”.

Conversion therapy is widely considered to be an extremely harmful brand of pseudoscience that tells LGBT+ people that their sexuality or gender identity can be changed.

In the UK, all major counselling and psychotherapy bodies, as well as the NHS, have branded conversion therapy as dangerous and harmful.

More: conversion therapy, Orlando, Pulse

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